May 5th, 2009
05:03 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama proposes $63 billion to battle disease abroad

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The proposed funding includes money for family planning and reproductive health care."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration wants to spend $63 billion to fight disease in impoverished countries, expanding a Bush administration program that concentrated on AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, the White House announced Tuesday.

"We need to harness the energy and focus that has made such a difference in addressing HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB to tackle this broader range of health-care challenges," said Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew.

Lew said the money would be spent over six years and would focus on improving treatment for a range of tropical diseases. He said the program would be a way for the United States to use "soft power" to head off future conflicts in poor countries.

Details remain to be worked out, but Lew said the proposal would roughly double what the government currently spends.

The proposed funding includes money for family planning and reproductive health care. Lew dodged questions about whether the money would pay for abortions, telling reporters, "That's not what this funding is about."

"This funding is about dealing with prenatal care, post-natal care, tropical diseases, children who die from diarrhea," he said.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order in February that rolled back limits on U.S. aid to organizations that provide abortion or related services. The rule was first imposed by the Reagan administration in 1984, repealed when Democrat Bill Clinton took office in 1993 and reinstated by Obama's Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.

Filed under: Health care • Obama administration
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